GRIFFITH producers are preparing to battle the big guns after a Queensland energy company lodged an application to probe the region.
Shortly before Christmas, Grainger Energy Pty Ltd lodged an application with the NSW government for a Petroleum Exploration Licence – which encompasses the highly controversial coal seam gas.
If approved, the licence will enable the company to prospect across a huge chunk the region - encompassing Griffith, Coleambally, Yenda, Benerembah, Booligal and more.
The application has no restrictions on methods that can be used for exploration – which can include literature research, gravity and seismic testing, aerial surveys and shallow and deep drilling.
A coal seam gas discovery could have devastating effects for local producers, many of whom know very little about their rights when it comes to keeping prospectors off their properties.
The Wine Grapes Marketing Board will hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss a plan of attack to prevent the application being passed – including lobbying member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli.
But Mr Piccoli said there was little he could do.
“At a political level, we can’t interfere with mining applications,” Mr Piccoli said.
“There are laws that the NSW government has introduced which mean they can’t establish mines within two kilometres of residential areas, which excludes gigantic parts of the MIA.
“Mining companies make the mistake of applying for these licences across huge areas – if they actually applied where there weren’t built-up residential areas, they wouldn’t create such a fuss.”
NSW Farmer’s Griffith branch president Helen Dalton said members could approach the association for more information.
“It really is a double-edged sword – some communities would welcome mines of land that isn’t highly valued,” Mrs Dalton said.
“But for retiring farmers who want to sell, it could really devalue their land.
“There don’t seem to be too many checks and balances but mining companies have to work with the farmers, they can’t just do what they like.
“The government is certainly very lax in terms of policies when it comes to this.”
Anyone wanting to have their say can lodge a public submission, available at http://www.resources.nsw.gov.au/community-information/comment/titles and comments are due by January 23.